The point? KTM is small enough to take risks with their production models – which usually pay off handsomely for the firm – but large enough to make a huge impact in a developing niche segment like electric bikes.
With that, the Freeride-E makes its entrance. The motorcycle itself is designed for fun riding, a trail bike with a heavy trials-influence to make it nimble and easily maneuverable. It is the same chassis as the two-stroke 250R, with the same 21” front/18” rear wheels, and WP suspension boasting 9.8” of travel in the front, and 10.2” in the rear.
Where it differs, of course, is in the powertrain. The Freeride-E is driven by a silent 22hp electric motor with 31 foot-pounds of torque, which powerfully spins up all it’s torque from a stop, resulting in a surprisingly peppy ride. Instant torque delivery is but one of the benefits of electric vehicles like the Freeride-E – the others are zero exhaust emissions and completely quiet operation. This will allow riding fun to be had in any number of areas that are currently off limit to standard dirt bikes.
The down side, of course, as it is with all electric motorcycles currently available, is the range. The Freeride is a well-sorted bike that seems like an absolute blast to ride, but you can only do so for about an hour on a single charge. Charging it back up only takes 50 minutes to get to 80%, which isn’t horrible, but it certainly doesn’t hold a candle to a gas-powered bike. You can swap out the Samsung-made 260 volt lithium-ion battery pack to keep the fun going longer – but at a price of $3600 for a spare, few will.
Despite the drawbacks, electric riding is a blast – and catching on, especially for those who find it challenging to get to remote riding areas where gas-powered dirt bikes are permitted. Even the price of the Freeride-E is much more reasonable than the rest of the electric bikes on offer – at $8299, it is in line with the prices of many smaller gas-powered off-road bikes. All of that isn’t the problem.
The problem is, KTM doesn’t know if it really wants to bring the new bike stateside yet. The U.S., with its huge surface area, long, flat interstates, and unrestricted drivers licenses is traditionally a market dominated by big tourers and heavy cruisers like Harley-Davidsons and the like. The light, nimble, electric Freeride-E, while already a hit in Europe, may not be as predictable a success on this continent.
Thus, while KTM is indeed bringing the Freeride-E to the States, it is doing so as a pilot program only – an experiment to gauge the level of consumer interest in production electric motorcycles here in the U.S. Only 11 dealerships in the U.S. will get Freeride-E’s to sell and the training to service the new electric drivetrain. But if that takes the wind out of your sails a little, it may get worse: fully half of them are all in Southern California.
So while “KTM is bringing the Freeride-E to the U.S.” is technically true, they’re doing it a little more cautiously than e-bike fans might have liked. But the big news here is that we’ll finally have an electric motorcycle made by a premium manufacturer available here in the States, and the success of the Freeride-E will serve as a bellwether for future developments in the space by KTM and other brands. And that’s when this segment will get really exciting. Click Here…